Tema O. Milstein

Associate Professor
Presidential Teaching Fellow

Photo: Tema O. Milstein


Email:  tema@unm.edu
Office: Room 206
Personal Website

Ph.D., University of Washington, 2007


Dr. Milstein's teaching and research interests are in ecocultural/environmental communication, culture and communication, and interpretive and critical cultural inquiry. Milstein is a Fulbright Scholar, Presidential Teaching Fellow, and UNM Outstanding Teacher of the Year.


My work focuses on the culture of nature and the nature of culture, with research generally fitting in the categories of environmental, ecocultural, and cultural communication. My methodology is largely interpretive, cultural, and critical. Questions I am interested in include:

  • How are ecological and cultural perceptions and practices reproduced or transformed through communication?
  • How is the self altered through culture, environment, and communication?
  • How does nature mediate communication and culture?

I’m currently working on several research projects, including:

  • Nature Tourism Discourses: Ethnographic studies focused on the interplay of communication and nature tourism, centrally concerned with ways tourism discourse reinforces or challenges Western views of, and actions toward, wildlife and ecosystems. Locations of focus include the Canada-U.S. Pacific border, Florida, and New Zealand.
  • When I say nature, I mean...: I am working with a graduate student team to analyze pedagogical free writes I have used over the years to engage students and others in discovering their own and wider environmental meaning systems.

  • Ecological Identity: I am examining the everyday disciplining of one's ecological identity and the overwhelming masking of ecocentrism.

Recent Sample Publications

To freely read any of these publications, please go to Academia.edu

  • Milstein, T. (2015). The performer metaphor: “Mother nature never puts on the same show twice.” Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture. 
  • Milstein, T., & Pulos, A. (2015). Culture jam pedagogy and practice: Relocating culture by staying on one’s toes. Communication, Culture, & Critique
  • Milstein, T. (2013). Communicating “normalcy” in Israel: Intra/intercultural paradox and interceptions. Tourism and Cultural Change. 11 (1-2), 73-91.

  • Milstein, T. (2012). Banging on the divide: Cultural reflection and refraction at the zoo. In E. Plec (ed.) Perspectives on Human-Animal Interaction: Internatural Communication. (pp. 162-181). London: Routledge.   

  • Milstein, T. (2012). Survive, critique, and create: Guiding radical pedagogy and critical public scholarship with the discursive guideposts of ecopedagogy. Green Theory and Praxis Journal. 6 (1), 3-16.

  • Milstein, T. (2012). Greening Communication. In S.D. Fassbinder, A. J. Nocella II & R. Kahn (Eds.) Greening the Academy: Ecopedagogy through the Liberal Arts (pp. 161-174). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.
  • Milstein, T. & Dickinson, E. A. (2012). Gynocentric greenwashing: The discursive gendering of nature. Communication, Culture, & Critique. 5 (4), 510-532.
  • Chen, Y.W., Milstein, T., Sandoval, J., Anguiano, C., & Knudsen, L. (2012). Challenges and benefits of community-based participatory research: A case of collaboratively examining ecocultural struggles in New Mexico. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture. 6 (3), 403-421.
  • Milstein, T., & Kroløkke, C. (2012). Transcorporeal Tourism: Whales, fetuses, and the rupturing and reinscribing of cultural constraints. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture. 6 (1), 82-100.
  • Anguiano, C., Milstein, T., De Larkin, I., Sandoval, J., & Chen, Y.W. (2012). Connecting Community Voices: Using a Latino/a critical race theory lens on environmental justice advocacy. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication. 6 (3), 403-421
  • Milstein, T., Anguiano, C., Sandoval, J., Chen, Y.W., & Dickinson, E. (2011). Communicating a "new" environmental vernacular: A sense of relations-in-place. Communication Monographs. 78 (4), 486-510.
  • Peterson, J., Milstein, T., Chen, Y.W., & Nakazawa, M. (2011). Self-efficacy in communication: The development and validation of a sojourners' scale. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication. 4 (4), 290-309.
  • Milstein, T. (2011). Nature identification: The power of pointing and naming. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture. 5 (1), 3-24.
  • Milstein, T., & Manusov, V. (2009). "Oppositional discourse in Israeli media: Reflections of multiple cultural identities in coverage of the Rabin-Arafat handshake." Howard Journal of Communications. 20 (4), 353-369
  • Milstein, T. (2009). "Environmental communication theories." In Stephen Littlejohn and Karen Foss (eds.). Encyclopedia of Communication Theory (pp. 344-349). Thousand Oaks: Sage.
  • Milstein, T. (2009). "Somethin' tells me it's all happening at the zoo: Discourse, power and conservationism." 3 (1), 25-48. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture.
  • Milstein, T. (2008). " When whales 'speak for themselves': Communication as a mediating force in wildlife tourism." Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, 2 (2), 173-192.
  • Milstein, T. (2007). "Human Communication's Effects on Relationships with Animals." In M. Bekoff (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Human-Animal Relationships: A Global Exploration of Our Connections with Animals (Vol. 3, pp. 1044-1054). Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.


Donal Carbaugh, Donna Haraway, Val Plumwood, Arturo Escobar, Stuart Hall, Norman Fairclough, bell hooks, Michel Foucault, etc.

Teaching Style

I strive for a highly interactive and experiential pedagogy that engages students in transformative learning. I am interested in helping students discover ways to critically apply their learning to their work and their lives.


2015-2017 Presidential Teaching Fellow; 2012 Fulbright Scholar, New Zealand; 2011 UNM Outstanding New Teacher of the Year Award; 2013 & 2009 Christine L. Oravec Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Environmental Communication, National Communication Association; 2013 Critics Choice Book Award American Educational Studies Association (chapter author); Top Papers in Environmental Communication: 2012 from International Communication Association, 2010 & 2006 from National Communication Association; 2011 from Western States Communication Association.

Affiliated Faculty

Sustainability Studies Program, Geography & Environmental Studies Department, Water Resources Program.

Spare Time

Being with my sweet family, gardening, being outdoors, yoga, snowboarding, travel.